Tuesday evening talk 1 December: Photography can save and give meaning to your life, that was the overriding message of Tracey’s talk. Like a previous speaker, Paul Sanders, ex-The Times Picture Editor, Tracey went through a very difficult time with depression and found solace through photography. In 2004 she went to Africa to photograph wildlife and the trip changed her life for the better.
For Tracey, wildlife photography not only makes her happy it creates memories that will stay with her for the rest of her life – despite the long hours – 36 hours in a hide seeing nothing – getting up at unearthly hours and the terrible weather, it is all worth it, and Tracey showed us images all from winter shoots to emphasise the point.
Tracey describes herself as a wildlife portrait photographer and likes to get low down at eye level and get eye contact. She certainly did this with shots of monkeys at sub-zero temperatures in Japan. The extreme cold created lots of mist and snow which was great for non-distracting backgrounds. She also photographed cranes in Hokkaido, swans on the semi frozen lake of Kussharo, white tailed and Steller’s sea eagles, deer and Hokkaido red foxes.
Previously she had always used aperture-priority exposure settings but during this trip she took control from the camera and switched to manual mode, this transformed her imagery and she now always shoots in manual mode. She is a prolific shooter. In the two weeks spent in Japan she shot 49,000 images. Three weeks in the Falklands 89,000 photographs.
She then took us to cold Finland for more snow shots, black grouse, brown bears and wolverine before moving on to the warmer climes of Lake Kerkini in Greece and Dalmatian pelicans. She won Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 with a close up shot of these birds.
Then back to the snow, this time to a remote part of north Iceland to capture Artic foxes which allow you to get very close up to them, before going off to France to photograph the horses of Camargue which she shot mainly in black and white.
Tracey also goes to places where she can capture captive wildlife. She will only go to venues where there is some element of conservation involved in the running of the venue and gave some examples such as Apenhuel in Netherlands where primates roam free, Big Cats Sanctuary in Kent, Yorkshire Wildlife park to photograph polar bears along with other places where you can shoot birds of prey and harvest mice.
Tracey also showed photos of her favourite places in the UK to shoot wildlife. Top of the list was the Farne Islands to puffins and other seabirds, Donna Nuck for the seals, parts of Scotland for red squirrel, crested tits and gannets. One of her gannet shots involved shooting underwater with a camera on a pole and no view of what was in front of the lens. After 1800 images she got two to her liking and one of them won her the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Open Competition. Tracey will return to shooting gannets underwater but this time she will be underwater herself not pressing the shutter in hope from the end of a long pole.
Tracey’s images were superb and her love for photography and the wildlife she photographs shone through her presentation. Wildlife Part 2? Bring it on.